The beauty of nature is unsurpassable. Nature is the essence, the source and the inspiration to create.
(Conrad Jon Godly)
JD Malat Gallery is pleased to present Nevertheless, a solo exhibition bringing together a new body of work from Swiss artist Conrad Jon Godly. Born in Davos, Switzerland, Godly is always seeking to capture the essence of his surrounding environment.
The exhibition represents a return to Godly’s favourite subject matter: the awe, terror, beauty, and suspense of the mountains. Godly has titled this exhibition in defiance of those who seek to pigeonhole him; yes, he has painted many mountains before, nevertheless, not one is the same, and this show presents a refined and powerful rendition of these phenomenal gifts of nature.
Godly’s unique style is caught between abstraction and representation. His paintings are never illustrations of specific mountains, instead his paintings are the product of his memory. In this way, Godly seeks to capture the emotional relationship that he has with them, creating paintings with a tangible quality; the ridges are deeply felt, the drops are sheer, the paint falls from the canvas. Godly breaks the boundary between object and viewer, letting the paintings burst into the physical space of the gallery.
From afar, the paintings appear photographic, with their realistic depictions of reflections on pure white snow. This is because of the 17 years Godly spent as a photographer before turning to the brush, which has gifted him an innate knowledge of light and composition. As a result, he gives light priority in his painting, masterfully manipulating the paint to give the impression of blinding sunlight or total darkness.
Godly’s understanding of nature’s essence allows him to create a narrative that becomes progressively darker in this exhibition. Firstly, there are his paintings of light. These canvases are his most photographic, flooded with blue and white; light emanates from the pictorial plane – focusing on hope. Secondly, there are the canvases concerned with mist. These works deal mostly in more pastoral greens and greys, split by a ravine that rushes through the centre. Finally, in his night paintings Godly revels in the theatrical nature of the mountains, lacing the thick paint with fear and danger.
Because Godly is constantly driving toward the essence of nature, his work presents a means for meditative contemplation: “My work is very meditative. That is the most important factor. And I work very fast,” he says. As Philip Maier states in ‘Conrad Jon Godly, Works +-’, “internalising these mountains has been the painterly exercise [Godly] has submitted himself to”. In internalising the mountains, Godly gets closer to his goal, and finds purpose for being.
“I think the search for the essence is an eternal search,” Godly says, “…maybe it is also the search for the self, and this constant search until death is maybe the meaning of life.”
The pandemic has solidified his devotion to the mountains, convinced of their necessity. “I made a break and I took time to think deeply about our world, our society, the politicians… how humans destroy our planet. In these difficult times people are longing for real things.” In contrast to politicians, Godly suggests a mountain is always true to you, eternally, indestructibly.
Godly is in the collections of the Swiss National Bank, Switzerland, the UBS Bank, Switzerland, Credit Suisse, Switzerland, Julius Bär Bank, Switzerland, DAROS collection, Switzerland, and the GKB (Bank Carton of Grisons), Switzerland.